Date of Award

8-1-2016

Degree Name

Master of Science

Department

Behavior Analysis and Therapy

First Advisor

Dixon, Mark

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to determine the effects of whether pounds are being lost or gained on the rate at which people discount the value of weight change outcomes, as well as determine the effects of whether pounds are being lost or gained and diet length on the value of access to higher calorie foods relative to weight change outcomes. This was accomplished by repeatedly asking participants to choose between two dietary options of the same length but which resulted in gaining or losing a certain number of pounds. Each question varied the length of the diet, how many pounds could be gained or lost, and whether those pounds were being gained when they chose the higher calorie diet or lost when they chose the lower calorie diet. The survey was administered with 30 participants. Whether pounds per being gained or lost did not have a significant effect on the rate at which weight change outcomes were discounted (t = 1.883, p = .07), but did have a significant effect on how many pounds needed to be at stake per day in order for the participant to choose the lower calorie diet (t = 4.995, p < .01). There was also a significant correlation between diet length and how many pounds needed to be at stake per day in order for the participant to choose the lower calorie diet (ρ = -.373, p <.01). The current investigation has implications for our understanding of choice and discounting behavior, and has specific implications for people who wish to make healthier dietary decisions.

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